The BA of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Mohamad Norza Zakaria hopes that Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin can shine for the country after recovering from injury. File pic by OWEE AH CHUN

KUALA LUMPUR: The BA of Malaysia (BAM) have stressed that the squad that will compete at the Asia Team Championship in Alor Star next month, which is also the qualifying round for the Thomas Cup, will not be a team made up of passengers nor extras.

BAM president, Datuk Seri Mohamad Norza Zakaria has expressed confidence that the squad which will be led by the country’s top singles player, Lee Chong Wei has what it takes to be among the four best teams to qualify on merit for the Thomas Cup in Bangkok in May.

"This is our target, so if the players selected give a very good performance and show focus as well as display strong mental strength and resilience, then we should be able to do very well indeed,” said Norza after BAM’s Coaching and Training (C&T) committee meeting held at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) here earlier today.

As expected, Chong Wei has been given the responsibility of spearheading the national squad’s campaign. The other three singles players named in the squad are Lee Zii Jia, Iskandar Zulkarnain and Soong Joo Ven, whereas Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong and Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi are the two doubles pairs that have been selected.

The C&T committee will also give young pair Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani a chance to represent the country at the championship slated to take place from February 6 to 11.

Norza, who is also the C&T committee chairman said that they do not have much time to change players in the period of a month and highlighted the fact that the players who have been selected are among the country’s best.

"Yes, we can refer to the world rankings if not for merit, but we want to be among the best four, and not to qualify through the back door (ranking). Let others say that we qualify for the Thomas Cup, and not just to go there as passengers or extras,” said Norza.

On Joo Ven’s selection, Norza said it all depends on the players’ inside rankings which are done each week.

"Each player is given the chance to go against each other to prove themselves. So the inside ranking and current decisions made, apart from mental and physical strengths, are why Joo Ven has been selected. I have given the mandate to our national men’s singles head coach Misbun Sidek to make the call.

Norza is also hoping that Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin can shine for the country after making a full recovery from injury.

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